One of DMUK’s most crucial campaigns is encouraging local authorities to make sure that the Blue Badge scheme is properly administered and enforced. The national Blue Badge statistics for 2020 released on 20th January 2021 reveal that many local authorities are still not doing enough to uphold the integrity of the Blue Badge scheme.
On 31st March 2020 there were 2.44 million Blue Badges held in England. This is an increase of 6.5% since March 2019. This increase was expected following the extension of the Blue Badge eligibility criteria which came into effect in August 2019. Local authorities issued 996,000 badges in 2019/20 and 26,000 of these were issued to individuals with non-visible disabilities under the new eligibility criteria. DMUK is pleased to see that Blue Badges are being issued to people with non-visible disabilities who need them. That said, we are well aware that this puts more pressure on a scheme that is already poorly enforced and makes effective enforcement more important than ever.
General Blue Badge Enforcement
Included in the Blue Badge statistics is the number of prosecutions for misuse of the Blue Badge scheme. The statistics look at local authorities in England in the period year ending 31st March 2020. The statistics show that 1,429 prosecutions took place during this period compared to 1,432 the previous year. Similar to last year, 98% of these prosecutions were the result of a non-Blue Badge holder using somebody else’s Blue Badge.
A Closer Inspection
Despite the slight decrease in prosecutions, the number of local authorities which have a ‘yes’ policy when it comes to prosecuting Blue Badge misuse has risen from 66% to 69%. However, we remain disappointed by the level of enforcement because only 62% of the local authorities which say they prosecute Blue Badge misuse actually prosecuted somebody. The remaining 38% did not have any prosecutions. This means that only two-thirds of the authorities that have a ‘yes’ to prosecution policy actually use it to enforce the scheme. What is the point of having a prosecution policy in place if it is not going to be used? While the prosecution figures for each individual authority have become slightly more widespread, the majority of prosecutions (53%) were recorded in London. Therefore, if you live outside the capital it is unlikely that you will see much enforcement in your local area.
DMUK would like to recognise local authorities that are enforcing the scheme correctly and congratulate them on supporting disabled motorists to live independent lives.
DMUK CEO, Graham Footer commented: “Enforcement of the Blue Badge scheme continues to improve. However, progress remains disappointingly slow. Enforcement is more crucial than ever considering the rise in the number of people who are entitled to hold a Blue Badge. DMUK wants to see all local authorities enforcing the scheme effectively. If a local authority has a prosecution policy, it is crucial that it is used to prosecute those abusing the scheme when necessary. It is not good enough to have a policy that lays dormant and no action taken. We would like to see the government put more pressure on local authorities to make sure the integrity of the scheme is upheld.”